Men’s Soccer Looks to Continue Run of Regular Season and Postseason Glory
Issue   |   Thu, 08/31/2017 - 22:34
Amherst Athletics
Weller Hlinomaz ‘18 scored eight goals last year in his first season for Amherst after transferring.

With 10 of last year seniors having graduated, seven of whom were starters, the Amherst men’s soccer team will have many new faces in their lineup this year.

Perhaps most notably, the Mammoths will have to find replacements for their entire back line of Jackson Lehnhart ’17, Cameron Bean ’17, Justin Aoyama ’17 and Rohan Sood ’17, the backbone of a dominant defense.

However, despite dramatic turnover, the squad feels confident that it will continue the program’s winning legacy.

“The team is looking forward to the upcoming season,” senior captain Sam Malnik said. “[Our mentality] hasn’t changed from previous years. We are grounded in hard work and commitment to one another. Every player on the roster has the ability to get serious playing time. We can’t wait for the season to begin.”

Leading the squad alongside Malnik are fellow captains Cameron Hardington ’18 and Aziz Khan ’18. The trio looks to help the team improve upon last year’s record of 17-1-2 and their third round appearance in the NCAA tournament.

In addition to the strong leadership of those three, the Mammoths will rely heavily on the returning talents of Weller Hlinomaz ’18, Lee Owen ’18 and Luke Nguyen ’19.

With eight goals last season, Hlinomaz was a key element of Amherst’s offense and is poised wreak havoc on the NESCAC once again this fall.

On the defensive side of the ball, Owen ended last season with an impressive save percentage of 0.849, and Amherst will certainly look to the senior keeper to take command of an inexperienced backline.

Plagued by injuries, Nguyen was only able to play in 10 games last year, but he still managed to record two goals and one assist during his few appearances. A composed central midfielder, Nguyen’s technical skills will undoubtedly be critical for the team.

The team also has a whole new crop of talent to work with, as 11 first years will be added to this season’s roster.

Like those who came before them, this class is competitive and full of talent, and the Mammoths are eager to see what they will bring to the 2017 squad.

Even as the team hopes to continue the winning legacy of the Amherst men’s soccer program, they also hope to establish the skill and strength specific to this collection of players.

“This season, we’re not worried about repeating the success of [past years],” Owen said. “We’re just focusing on whatever’s right in front of us. Even after graduating so many key guys, this is the most well-rounded and talented group of guys I’ve been with since I’ve played here.”

The Mammoths kick off the 2017 season on Tuesday, Sept. 5, when they will host Eastern Nazarene at 4:30 p.m. in a nonconference tilt. NESCAC play begins on Saturday, Sept. 9, when the team will face Bowdoin College.